rather than trust his luck finding favorite container plants in
nurseries, Rouse keeps and propagates his own from year to
year. So the fuchsia, acalypha, and coleus in front of the
woodland garden (facing page) are keepers. Westringia (this
page, top) is a rosemary look-alike but much easier to grow.
Rouse trained it into standards that enjoy a few weeks of
autumn outdoors before coming inside. In the white garden
(this page, bottom), clouds of white mums and Montauk
daisies accent the blades of Carex ‘Ice Dance.’
ering kale gear up for the show. The fall air fills with a perfume all its own as the smoky aroma of the wood burning in Rouse’s living room fireplace is augmented by the
scents of autumn clematis, clethra, and cimicifuga. It can
go straight to your head.
As for color, Rouse stops just short of riotous. Most
of the shocking yellow rudbeckias, helianthus, and hele-niums have bowed out by late summer, leaving him with
shimmering shades of pink, blue, purple, and burgundy.
He steers clear of shout-out orange that might clash with
the ongoing spectrum. “It all has to mesh together,” he
says. The exceptions are the shrubs and trees such as itea,
fothergilla, deciduous azaleas, and witch hazel that are
rapidly moving into a conflagration of explosive color.
An avid bird-watcher and a fan of fowl and exotic
birds, which are housed in coops and large aviaries outdoors during the summer, Rouse lures songbirds with
shrubs such as viburnums, whose berries serve as snacks
for migratory flybys. Most of the winterberries will hold
firm for the cold-weather flocks that remain, though occasional gangs of robins strip them clean.
On this side of summer, the garden turns blowzy.
“It’s become wilder,” says Rouse. “If you don’t like looseness, you won’t be fond of fall.” He warms to that carefree abandon while also exercising checks and balances.
He polices with pruning shears to tidy up
plants. Clipped hedging and sheared shrubs
hold the line. As much as he applauds a certain degree of rambunctiousness, he says,
“you have to maintain the garden’s integrity.” In the same spirit, he keeps the woodlands clear,
so that even when the weather turns inclement, his views
have depth beyond the plantings clustered immediately
around the house.
Intentional, carefully orchestrated, and absolutely
breathtaking, Pine Meadow Gardens offers no fond farewell. Rather than a swan song, there is a continual upbeat
flow. Inevitably, the time will come when only the structure of evergreens and deciduous shrubs, sheared, shaped,
and placed where they shine, defines the space. Until then,
winter can wait.